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TIGHT BUT LOOSE ARCHIVE EXTRACT:PRELUDE TO EARLS COURT

15 January 2010 3,730 views No Comment

1975-pic

 

 

Here’s the latest TBL back issue extract from the TBL archives. These archive pieces highlight the depth of detail to found in the TBL magazine.

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In keeping with this week’s 1975 theme, this TBL archive extract from issue 15 published in 2001, focuses on a series of dynamic performances as Led Zeppelin barnstormed there way across the US in early 1975. A band at the very top of their game…and a prelude to what the UK would revel in at Earls Court

 

 

 

PRELUDE TO EARLS COURT

 

Led Zeppelin’s tenth American tour kicked off in Minnesota on January 18 1975 and initially their performances were hampered due to Plant’s bout of flu and Page’s injury to his finger. The situation began to improve when they reached New York some ten gigs into the tour. For the Feb 3 Madison Square Garden date Page felt sufficiently recovered to re instate Dazed And Confused to the set. Just over a week later, Plant’s relief at finally shrugging off his flu bug was evident in a very loose and informal Valentine’s Day performance at the Nassau Coliseum. As their newly released double set Physical Graffiti hit the stores they moved up another gear .March saw they really hit their stride with outstanding performances at  Long Beach,Vancouver and Seattle -eventually culminating in a memorable three day stint at the LA Forum.

Throughout those Feb/March dates they began to further develop the set clearly displaying points of reference in their playing that would be further explored when they returned to London to play the Earls Court shows. 

So having evaluated the ’75 tour tapes, I’ve highlighted the key moments from seven performances that in hindsight, clearly provided a prelude to those five glorious days that would follow in May 1975:    

 

Date: FEBRUARY 14 1975:

Venue: NASSAU COLISEUM UNIONDALE NEW YORK

Performances: KASHMIR/TANGERINE (snippet)

Bootleg Reference: NASSAU ’75 (TDOLZ)

 

”This is one that regulars that come here know quite well…but you’ve still yet to hear the recorded version…this is a track about another of life’s journeys that never end.

This time in Kashmir”

 

 Kashmir was a new number that they were obviously itching to play live and with Plant’s voice suitably recovered they turned in a majestic Valentines’ Day performance in Nassau. Page strumming down relentlessly on the Gibson (note : for these Kashmir ’75 performances Jimmy used his 1973 acquired number 2 Les Paul), behind Bonham’s castinet like drumming.

Plant showing renewed confidence to throw in the echoed vocal nuances that became such an Earls Court trademark. Listening to this delivery re emphasis my opinion that the best live versions of Kashmir  were all played in the year it was released on record.   

Tangerine was of course a surprise inclusion at the Earls Court shows performed as a four part harmony. However perhaps they were already toying with the idea of bringing it back during the American tour. For on this night prior to Stairway To Heaven Plant let out a few lines from the long deleted Zep 3 stage fave. ”Measuring a summers day”…adding ”I’ve forgotten the words”. It was a brief teaser for a song that would again light up those memorable May days.

 

Date: FEBRUARY 28 1975            

Venue: LOUISANA STATE UNIVERSITY BATON ROUGE

Performance: NO QUARTER

Bootleg Reference: FREEZE (TARANTURA) LED ASTRAY (SILVER RARITIES)

 

The May 18 and 24th Earls Court versions of the JPJ opus are amongst the very best they performed. The highlight being JP’s lengthy piano concerto that led to the loose jamming amalgamation with Page and Bonham. During the ’75 US that arrangement underwent much construction as it expanded in length. On this night in Baton Rouge Jonesy began applying for the first time that pleasing neo classical solo before Jimmy waded in with a long rambling solo. The improvisation of No Quarter would further develop later in the tour when Page and Bonham introduced an uptempo jazz tempo to the piece. This Feb 28 delivery was an early example of how the track would evolve to such huge effect a little under two months hence in London.      

 

Date: MARCH 12 1975

Venue: CIVIC ARENA LONG BEACH CALIFORNIA

Perfomance: THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME (false start)/THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME

Bootleg Reference: TRAMPLED UNDER JIMMY’S FOOT (SILVER RARITIES)

 

Just to illustrate that not all went according to plan every night…. on this cooking performance in Long Beach their sheer enthusiasm got the better of them as they opened The Song Remains The Same….. only to bring it to a close some one minute in. 

 

”Just a minute that’s it ….see you again Long Beach! Yes it happened for the first time in six and a half years…does anybody remember laugher?…. the first time we came here ..er we never seem to  get

things together in Los Angeles.

Ok as I was saying. Nevertheless The Song Remains …..nevertheless, ad infinitum to the power of three reoccurring… The Same!’’

 

They did not get it wrong a second time.

 

What happened next was simply the business. A speed ride through the opening track of Houses and as Plant might put it a reoccurring anthem. It sounded great here ,it sounded great in Earls Court and it still sounded great 20 years later when Page and Plant deployed it so effectively on their 95/96 world tour. This is a Zeppelin anthem that gets less acclaim than the more overplayed Whole Lotta Love, Stairway and Kashmir -but on stage it always burnt and smouldered its way into the set. Pull it out and try it for yourselves on any night…the effect as those Houses ads read, is still shattering.

 

Date: MARCH 19 1975

Venue: PACIFIC ARENA VANCOUVER

Performance: WOODSTOCK (insert)

Bootleg Reference: PLEEASE (SILVER RARITIES)

 

”By the end of the tour I felt I could sing anything”.

 

Proof of that statement came nightly within Dazed And Confused. The San Francisco excerpt had long been a feature of the early part of the piece, but on this tour they began experimenting even further. Plant introducing another hippie anthem to proceedings -the Joni Mitchell pean to Max Yasgur’s farm and a hit for Crosby Stills, Nash & Young. The Zepp arrangement was still built loosely on the melody employed for San Francisco-Plant bending the words to fit the structure. Against Page’s eerie minor chord strumming it became one of the most atmospheric parts of their performance. Plant’s repeated ”Back to the garden” refrain merging into the violin bow episode amongst the dry ice. The Vancouver performance was a blueprint for the equally dramatic versions performed at Earls Court run. During this part of the tour Plant also took to singing The Eagles Take It Easy and during the final LA stint he crooned a 50’s like To Be Loving  before moving into Bob Marley’s I Shot The Sheriff. As he put it -he could sing anything… 

 

 

Date: MARCH 21 1975

Venue: SEATTLE CENTER COLISEUM

Performances:ROCK AND ROLL/SICK AGAIN/OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY

Bootleg Reference:SEATTLE SUPERSONIC (GEMA) 207.19 & 214 (COBLA STANDARD)

 

This Seattle show was simply one of the best gigs of their latter era.

Proximity editor Hugh Jones was there and relayed the events in a superb feature titled ”At The top of their game” in issue Vol 6 no17.

 

If proof was needed then this opening segment brings it all alive – as it epitomises what a potent three pronged entrance these songs really were. Rock And Roll segueing into the new sheer brutality of Sick Again with Plant teasing ”Do I look the same”, and then the opening speech followed by the ”Beginning of a dream and it starts here (R.Plant -Earls Court May*17) or on this occasion .”What we intend to do is to relive our pent uppedness on stage, and then to relieve it later on after the gig elsewhere. Now the thing is what we intend to do is to give you a cross section of what we’ve been trying to produce and write over the last six and a half years.

As you know the material varies greatly and so you will appreciate that we take it from one extreme to the other….and what better way to start than to gaze out onto the horizon and see what tomorrow may bring”

 

To quote Hugh Jones ”in those last few sentences Robert Plant may well have encapsulated Led Zeppelin as well as anyone ever has. The physical, the musical, the pretension and the arrogance-all backed up with music as varied and as good as his word for the next four hours”.

 

So the regal intro of  Over The Hills And Far Away,the Page solo as always flickering and twisting into previously un investigated territory. Then a swirling finale with Plant crying out ”Samantha Samantha” perhaps a reference to the fun they were about to enjoy offstage as he put it And on this night in Seattle it all just burst forth with that knowing arrogance .To use that old Zep’75 maxim it all underlined the fact that it wasn’t just a case of them being the number one band on the planet…the real point in question was just how far whoever was at number two lagged behind.

 

 

Date: MARCH 25 1975

Venue: THE FORUM INGLEWOOD LOS ANGELES

Performance: TRAMPLED UNDERFOOT

Bootleg Reference: THE SEX MACHINE (LEMON SONG)

 

The May 24 ’75 delivery of Trampled was an incredibly Page tour de force and again one of the most potent performances of their latter era. All through the US tour though, they were stretching the limits of the improvisational possibilities of this piece rendering the album version almost redundant. On this penultimate night of the tour Page, Jones and Bonham locked horns to produce a frightening barrage of noise over which Plant ad-libbed in required style. ”Give it to me, give it to me”

 

 Nobody described the live delivery of this track better than noted US scribe Lisa Robinson when she astutely observed that ”Trampled with its Come Together like rhythm sounds as if The Beatles battled the Stones in a parking lot -and Led Zeppelin won”

 

 

Date: MARCH 27 1975

Venue: THE FORUM INGLEWOOD LOS ANGELES

Peformances: IN MY TIME OF DYING/SINCE IV’E BEEN LOVING YOU/STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN/WHOLE LOTTA LOVE/BLACK DOG

Bootleg Reference: TOUR DE FORCE (RABBITT)

 

The final riot night of the US tour was a mass celebratory affair with the band fully aware that with this tour they had turned adversity into triumph. From the moment Linda Lovelace cutely introduced them onstage to Plant’s ”We’re coming back baby” this was a true prelude to what the UK was about to be served.

They even gave a hint of Earls Court fashion by introducing his Miss Selfridge cut off shirt and Page wearing the Dragon suit trousers that would become such a visual imprint of May ’75.

Their confidence was subsequently overflowing as they attacked the new In My Time Of Dying, Plant throwing in a few lines of You Shook Me.

”Anybody remember?” he asks at the end as he would a month later in SW5.

The version of Since I’ve Been Loving You was a real bonus and something sadly that Earls Court did not receive.

”A change in the programme- we were gonna do…..but this is a blues and I think this is where we first came in”. An impromptu set revision that delighted the LA audience.

A rare latter day stand alone delivery (in ’72/3 it had been segued with Misty Mountain)) recalling the majesty of Blueberry Hill at this very venue five years back. Rarely played in ’75 they ached their way through the old Zepp3 standard -Page’s solo as precise and inventive as that night back in September ’70.

 

On the home straight it was nothing less than a victory stomp. Stairway played as was the case as Earls Court as though Plant believed every word, and the final incendiary Whole Lotta Love/Black Dog medley with the added visual spectacle of that neon lit sign. Images and sounds that London would soon delight in.

Acknowledging their enthusiasm,  Plant told the final LA audience ”It’s really nice to know that we’re giving you what you are giving us because after tonight I think we’ve got three gigs in England. I don’t believe w’ell work again for quite a long time, so this has got to be good”.

 

That last night in  LA  was indeed good…very good ….and Earls Court would be even better.

 

 

Copyright Dave Lewis/TBL 2010

Not to be reproduced without permission

 

Originally written for Tight But Loose issue 15 2001

Currently out of print – re issue planned

 

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